solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

I’ve been thinking more about Google/YouTube’s new music streaming service terms – the ones that require your whole library, that require 320bps source, that require five year terms, and so on. I wrote about it last week, talking about how Google is letting the old labels dictate away crowdfunding rewards and the like.

But I’ve been doing more thinking since that. It’s been churning in my brain. And I’ve realised the five-year term, the 320bps requirement, and whole library thing have a combined intent.

And that intent is to take away literally every last music sale you might make. As in, every last music sale.

It’s not presented as such, of course. I think they want artists to think of it as radio that pays. But two of the big streaming service problems have been 1. quality (smaller concern) and 2. stability of material (huge concern). All the television streaming services, for example, have been plagued by shows getting yanked on and off and moving around. Customers find that annoying.

Meanwhile, you have the label involvement, discussed before. They were, from all reports, pretty tightly into this new set of terms. And one of the big problems for the labels the last several years has been the rise of indie artists. The crowdfunding/long-tail model has given indie artists something more to live on, ways to make money outside of the label ecosystem.

This solves both sets of “problems.” Think about it:

Google will have everything you do for five years, listen-anytime, at functionally CD quality. They’ll have everything, and they’ll have it first, at optimal quality. What’s that mean?

It means Google/YouTube Music service members will have no reason to buy any goddamn thing from any artist which is on the service. No more early-access advantages to entice crowdfunding backers. No more deep tracks on albums to discover. No more alt-takes, no more remixes, no more mailing-list exclusives – Google will have it all. Not exclusively, of course! But they’ll have it.

If I’m reading this right, then even if you hold out on them – you don’t upload some tracks, in violation of the agreement – if and when somebody else does, and they identify it as yours, they’ll add it to the service automatically. Tell me I’m wrong (even though I’m not) because that’s what this sounds like:

So even if you don’t explicitly deliver us every single song in your catalog if we have assets and they are fingerprinted by content ID to contain that music then it will be included to the subscription service…
        — Zoë Keating’s Google rep., in conversation with Zoë

Which means there’s no more reason to buy anything from you. No reason for anyone to deal with you at all.

Five years is a long time. There will be no long tail – at least, not for you. It’s all going to them. Five years is also plenty long enough to keep you locked in once you figure all this out. And five years is more than long enough to try to make this the new standard.

That’s the point of this whole contract. To take everything else away, and thereby, to reinstate a kind of 1971, one managed by making both unlimited internet distribution and piracy completely irrelevant.

I have to say – it’s brilliant. It end-runs around the post-scarcity environment entirely, by co-opting it. The pirates and illegal uploaders will make sure your entire catalogue is up there, even if you hold out, and it’ll be included whether you like it or not – it’s genius!

Meanwhile, they’re “giving the music away” so you can’t make any money on it, stopping you from being able to reward patrons and backers so you can’t make any money there either, and tossing you a sharecropper’s pittance in ad revenue as a reward. And even that is a pittance you can never hope to make on your own. You don’t – and can’t – have the numbers.

It’s a plan that takes away the entire internet/indie route as they understand it. It’s to make them – both the old labels and Google, in alliance – the only viable path. It’s a plan to make it so that once again, you have to go through them.

And we all know what that has always meant, don’t we?

Run. Run like hell.

Additional Reading:

  • #WeBelieveTheCellist

    This is Part Eleven of Music in the Post-Scarcity Environment, a series of essays about, well, what it says on the tin. In the digital era, duplication is essentially free and there are no natural supply constraints which support scarcity, and therefore, prices. What the hell does a recording musician do then?

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
    Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

    solarbird: (Lecturing)

    It’s been a problematic year, in a lot of ways; started out with the third round of eye surgery and recovery from all three initial rounds, and ended on a fourth round which will hopefully be the last. In between, despite everything, we managed to produce a new album (which I certainly hope you will preorder) and even tour a little.

    But in terms of public exposure, it’s mostly been… about the blog. And that’s really not how to do things as a musician. I haven’t even started booking much for 2015 yet, because I’ve been waiting for this last go-round with the eye, afraid it’d explode again making me cancel anything I set up.

    Hopefully we can move past that now.

    Still, most of the visible action has been at the blog! So here’re the 2014 Top Ten Posts. Four of them are actually posts from 2013, so I’ll also add on the four that would’ve made it without those holdovers.

    1. Gatekeeping and Recourse: something only men can do about sexism in geek culture. (A perennial favourite, from 2013)
    2. Music in the Post-Scarcity Environment, part 8: The Intrinsic Fraud of the Prestigious Internship. See above. Also 2013.
    3. An Embarrassing Stumble Towards Irrelevancy – comments on the SFWA petition flap and sexism.
    4. Mozilla and Firefox Careen Into a Ditch – comments on The Open Standard’s endorsement of Gamergate. This got me mentioned in The Daily Dot, so that was pretty cool.
    5. A Horrible Group of People – more on the SFWA petitioners, and specifically, on petition author Dave Truesdale’s “five furry pussies on the ballot” comment.
    6. What is Being Lost – the SFWA petitioners and failure to envision the present, much less the future. I sense a theme here; lots on sexism.
    7. Pushback and Misandry – sexism in geek culture and two case studies of sexist pushback against science. Another 2013 post in this year’s top 10.
    8. A Friday of Followups – Sarah Kellington of Pinniped comes in for recording, and more on the SFWA flap. Yay, something about music!
    9. Ribbon Mic Buildout – I built a ribbon microphone, and took pictures. The last of the 2013 posts in the top 10.
    10. Way Too Much to Dislike: my highly critical review of Doctor Who: The Caretaker. This was before “Kill the Moon” and my breakup of Moffat’s Who.

    It reflects the controversies of 2014 geek culture pretty solidly, I’m afraid. But that’s not the whole story.

    The difficult thing about this blog is that it’s echoed a lot of places. Some places, in entirety. Some comments come back here, and others are linked, but I’m not making any attempt to include views on those other sites in my numbers. I still have three-digits worth of views per post on Livejournal, and this year, Tumblr started mattering. In some cases, mattering a lot.

    And by “a lot,” well – the biggest post in this list got over 17,000 views at the home site this year. That is a lot for me, and it’s totally awesome. Most of them aren’t nearly that popular, at least, not here.

    Let’s take a look 2014’s 7, 8, 9, and 10th most popular posts, because one of them is a Tumblr example:

    1. Insects of the Writing World – on the contempt for the new shown by the SFWA old guard. Essentially tied are:
    1. A Quiet Night at the Lair: Korrasami is Canon and Nothing Hurts, and,
    1. GamerGate True Believes are the Anti-Vaxxers of the Online World, and finally:
    1. If One of the Bottles Should Happen to Fall – more SFWA sexism, specifically, Sean Fodera’s arguably questionable apology to Mary Robinette Kowal

    Number eight there? A Quiet Night at the Lair: Korrasami is Canon and Nothing Hurts? Here, it has a couple of hundred views. Plus another couple of hundred at Livejournal, and a few other places. All combined, over 400 views, which actually isn’t all that far above average.

    On Tumblr, though? It rocketshot. I can only get an estimate of the views, but the data I have puts it at around 35,000-45,000, mostly for the addendum commentary at the end. It nearly triples the number one post’s total count actually on

    That’s not the only post I’ve had do that. Rock candy geode did that too. And a post I made of some of the Kitsune at War sheet music (a bass-clef transposition actually left labelled “flute”) is nearing six digits.

    In the past, I’ve questioned my “echo everything everywhere” strategy, of letting people read whatever they want wherever they want. It didn’t seem to have been getting me much, and certainly, things like Facebook are a total bust. (And given how Facebook Destroys Everything, I’m kind of okay with that.)

    But having had a year which has, by necessity, been mostly about being online… it may have started to catch. This strategy may vindicate itself after all. That would be nice.

    An addendum: None of these lists include compilation posts, which are nexus posts for specific topics, like, the sexism and racism in geek culture collection, the studio buildout series on how to build your own recording space, and Music in the Post-Scarcity Environment. Those would all be in the top ten, but obviously shouldn’t count.

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
    Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

    solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

    Wow, this is quite the op-ed in The New York Times yesterday: Elegy for the ‘Suits’ – The Internet, Not the Labels, Hurt the Music Industry.

    It’s everything you despise about The New York Times and The New Yorker rolled up into one! Paean to power and old authority? CHECK! Unchecked nostalgia for the prime of the Baby Boom era? CHECK! Slavish worship of corporate culture? CHECK! Fear of agency resting outside the hands of white guys in suits? CHECK! “What an asshole!” working just fine as a punchline? CHECK!

    Really, it’s terrible and hilarious. And just wrong, of course – as I’ve written, the labels – via their industry group, the RIAA – destroyed the industry just fine on their own by making music ownership a negative value. Not to mention that they also drove the more aware musicians out through their ruinous strip-mining of artist value. It’s been almost 15 years since Courtney Love did the math, and the sharecropper approach wasn’t new then. If you signed with a label, you were giving them all the value and keeping something below minimum wage – if that. And they owned everything you made.

    So no, “the Internet” didn’t “hurt the music industry.” The labels are the ones who set up the teetering edifice. The internet just let musicians break out and tear it down.

    ps: talking of, pre-order the new album! We have a mastering engineer to pay. :D

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
    Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

    solarbird: (molly-thats-not-good-green)

    So. I have a Windows XP partition on my digital audio workstation. It exists to run two things: imgcopy and lightscribe. The machine spends 98% of its time in Ubuntu – but XP support is ending, and 0% is about to be the right amount of time.

    However, received wisdom (and every other time I’ve done this) says you have to install Windows first, in a dual-boot configuration, then install clean Linux. A fresh install of Linux is unacceptable, because of reasons. Good reasons, not bullshit/ph33r reasons. Don’t argue with me about that; if you want to, you are wrong.

    Now, if I have to, I can just yank the network drivers, not even turn on the external network card YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT EXTERNAL NETWORK CARD AGAIN REASONS and keep running XP, but wow, do I not want to do that. I’d like to turn this into a gaming machine as well – it has l33t specs in many ways, and with graphics card upgrades, could be a tiny goddess.

    So. First: is there a way to keep my Linux partitions and still end up with a dual-boot machine? I know I can’t upgrade WinXP in place, but I have enough room in the current XP partitions for Windows 8.1, if the spec sheet isn’t lying. I don’t mind wiping the XP partitions, If there’s a way to accomplish this, that would be awesome; how, specifically, do I do it, and if you’re proposing a method, have you done it?

    Keep in mind that given that the supposed XP-and-Vista binary to check your machine for Windows 8 compatibility failed to run because it doesn’t support XP, my confidence in my former employer is not high right now.

    Second: Failing that, and I think we can assume failure there, are there reasons of which I’m unaware which would make it insane to install Windows 8 to a USB drive and just boot off that when I need to run Windows? Preferably a flash drive? Obviously I’m not an Enterprise Customer ™ so I don’t have Windows To Go, so only have Windows 8.1 Pro, but does it really matter since I’d be only using it on one computer ever?

    Or, again, is that crazytalk? I don’t have USB 3.0, so this might be crazytalk, and honestly, I’d prefer a regular non-USB-drive install. But as a workaround, this would be fine. I’d have a Windows partition on the drive and use that for swap and My Documents and and and.

    If neither of these are options, but you have another option that does not involve reinstalling Linux, I’m all ears. Maybe some sort of VM solution, I could see that. Please, tell me. Because right now I’m looking at lol winxp 4eva, or, more accurately, winxp until it decides it really wants to register again and can’t because it has no network, and tells me to DIAF.

    I’d rather avoid that outcome. Because reasons.


    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
    Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

    ignore me

    Jul. 23rd, 2013 10:08 pm
    solarbird: (music)

    Updating the link stuff at the bottom of posts, and seeing how that works.

    eta: Oh, I think that’s much better. Plus, I finally got rid of the Fanbridge button. I haven’t had an account there for a year. Oops. But does it update with post edits? Let’s find out!

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
    Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

    solarbird: (pingsearch)

    Do you read in two quick F-shaped scans? That eyescan study says most of you do. It’s an important question if you’re trying to gain notice on the web – which, as a musician, I of course am. I have two lines, maybe one phrase each, to grab people passing by, before they’re done and out.

    Fancy formatting doesn’t help; you’ve learned to think that means ads. Honestly, I think that’s positive adaption, even if it leads to amusing results like 86% of test subjects being unable find the US population on the US Census’s web page, despite the fact that it was bright red and the largest text on the page.

    Almost everybody threw it away as an ad, because, frankly, it looks like one.

    Two months ago, I rebooted this website. I cleaned it up, simplified some pages, improved organisation, added post collections – lots of starch in the collar. Plays are up, hits are up, revisits are up – all those good things.

    But I have enough data now to see that there are two audiences here. You? You’re one of them. You pop in, read an article, and you’re done – particularly if reading on an echo. Some of you use the players on the left; some of you read more posts. A small but cool percentage of you browse collected articles. That’s awesome. Go you!

    The other audience will never see this post. They’re like dark matter; there, and massive, but invisible.

    In two months, hundreds of people have visited the front page of this website. They play music – primary reboot goal attained! – they look at videos, glance at reviews and press pages, and once in a while hit the contact form. They explore more pages per visit than you do.

    And they never come over here. Ever. Unless Google is lying to me, not once in two months has even one of these visitors clicked on “Blog of Evil” in the navigation bar. Not even once.

    It’s an astounding result, really. I’d like to get them over here, too; get them engaged.

    I don’t know how, yet. I’ve made one small change to the front page of the site, tonight – I’ve changed ‘Latest Schemes from the Blog of Evil’ to read ‘This News Just In from Supervillain Central,’ and linked it to the blog front page. Given the special-text-gets-ignored result in the second study above, I’ve also dimmed it from bright yellow to slightly-less-bright and slightly-more-greenish yellow, to blend in a little more. It’ll take a while to collect enough data to know whether it matters, but the theory is sound.

    Maybe I need to change it to “news” or something boring like that. Gods, I hope not. (eta: After some feedback on Livejournal, I realised that whether I like it or not, people weren’t hitting the Blog of Evil link. Let’s try “Blog.” Also “Home” instead of “Story.” I mean, one of the bullet points in the article is Clever phrasing drives away clicks, just as effectively as ad-like text.)

    Meanwhile, if you’re in this audience, if you’re here off a search, or a trackback, or you’re just new, I’d like to get you engaged in the other direction.

    In some ways, you’re a bigger challenge. Most new posts are read on echos – Tumblr, Livejournal, Dreamwidth, via RSS, and so on. But collections and semi-viral articles like Power and Supervillainy have large numbers of readers on the band site itself. Those people – you – you’re difficult to keep. And while I’m thrilled you – whoever you might be, reading this, in the future – you like my writing enough to get down this far… my art is the music.

    That’s the goal.

    i know what it means
    to work hard on machines
    it’s a labour of love
    so please don’t ask me why

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

    solarbird: From moongazeponies on deviantart (pony-pinkie-hax)

    The Motley Fool has discovered 3D printing. Hat tip for the pointer to L. S. McGill at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, who has already been talking about this, and has important extension commentary.

    You can actually read L. S. McGill’s article and get the idea about Motley Fool’s commentary, tho’ I’d recommend listening to the analysis – at least, the first chunk, before you get into the extended David Gardener sales pitch. You’ll know when you get there.

    One point the Motley Fool analysis makes is that the future of manufacturing is the same model as music and film. He calls it the destruction of the economies of scale, ending the advantages of factories, and moving manufacturing per se to the end user. He even talks about Star Trek‘s replicators.

    Giving him the benefit of the doubt on “23rd century”: I presume food replicators

    He further gets that there’ll be “legitimate” download sites for designs, ala iTunes, and alternate sites, such as Pirate Bay.

    It kind of astounds me that the same analyst who can get that right, and make that parallel, is not actually able to take a look at what’s actually happening in those comparison businesses.

    In particular, how we’re all scrambling to find viable business models that have nothing to do with recordings, and how to build a new recording model that actually pays something to artists, because there’s an entire generation that sees no value in paying for music. (To wit, parts one, two, three, four, five, and six. Parts one and two both talk about the disregard for purchasing music, the rest start to talk about new approaches.)

    Regardless, though, it’s about trying to find a way to make a post-scarcity model work. But that seems invisible to this guy. Don’t get me wrong: I’m for this future. A post-scarcity model in manufacturing? Sign me the fuck up. But there are huge ramifications, and this guy doesn’t understand – or at least doesn’t talk about – the fallout.

    It won’t be going for coffee.

    The good news for us in creative industries is that music, art, maybe movies, certainly performance – all these have alternate paths, many of which we’ve talked about in parts three through six. Bryan Kim at Hipset also recently posted an article on crowd patronage, expanding on one particular method I discussed in part three.

    But I think manufacturing will have an even harder time with this than musicians and artists. Product designers may not, but that’s going to be a much smaller chunk of economic input and activity, compared to the mass-manufacturing stage; we’ve seen that in the rust belt. Replication of physical product was never the high cost point of music – but he doesn’t seem to understand how problematic that makes his comparison.

    What happens to all those people when factory jobs are mostly just gone? What happens with all the money they don’t make anymore?

    The post-scarcity environment won’t look anything like our current economy. Just ask some of those musicians you’re referencing – and that’s the upside, for producers. Ask the American “rust belt” for the down.

    Maybe it really will look like Star Trek, eventually. I sure hope so. I even kinda think so – or, at least, that it could – and that’ll be awesome. But you’ll see your financial world torn apart, on the way there. Be ready for that – or, at least, as ready as you can be. It’s a great destination, but one hell of a bumpy road.

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

    solarbird: boring bit (boring bit)
    I did some stats tonight on my last few band blog posts, the ones that make up most of my typing output these days, and get echoed here? A couple of really interesting things popped out.

    1. IPv4 addresses are no longer useful for identifying uniques or non-uniques. Almost completely orthogonal at this point, as ISPs squeeze more and more routing through fewer virtualised IPs. I have vast swathes of obvious and clear uniques coming from single IPs.

    2. NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY, clicks out of Facebook. In my last two weeks, I have one Facebook-sourced load of a non-preview picture. One. Twitter's not much better, but I didn't expect it to be a traffic source. I need to completely rethink how I (try to) use Facebook.

    3. I still have a lot of RSS users! Yay!


    5. Dreamwidth matters! Yay!

    6. Livejournal matters a lot. Still. HI GUYS! I'm surprised too! A regular subset of people are popping in at journal top level, but most is friendslists and hey, did you know friendsfriends still gets used? Surprise!

    Counting only non-bot pageviews which view the post closely enough that non-headline images are loaded, a popular post will have well over 400 unique viewers - Montréal et Racines pulled in 437. A less popular post - something technical, like the DIY series - will pull in less, around 250. The average is a bit over 300.

    What percentage of people are actually reading, I can't say.

    I really have no idea what Facebook is for at this point. I need to write that "how Facebook ruins everything" post. Maybe next week.
    solarbird: (cracksman betty)

    Over these six articles, we have started to scrape the surface of new music business models in the post-scarcity era. And while we’ve covered quite a bit of ground, don’t expect that this is even the complete first word on the subect, much less the last!

    The common themes here have been reinvention and DIY; they’re the hallmarks everyone must show in a period of critical flux. Musicians and artists have long had to reinvent themselves throughout their careers; we’re just in a particularly acute period for it.

    This installment is a bit of potpourri; several topics, all of them are important, but none quite substantial enough to merit individual posts.

    First, the long-tail theory.

    yeah, like that

    The long-tail theory of making money, which emphasis the value of holding your own recordings and rights, isn’t nearly as important as when proposed back in 2004. It is still a valueable insight, and you still see people talking about it, and the value of residuals over long periods of time. But, well…

    If people don’t buy recorded music, the long tail value of zero is still zero.

    This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about holding your own rights, doing your own recording, and so on. Where it does have value is in liscensing for other commercial works in new productions, such as soundtracks. A song I recorded on Dick Tracy Must Die is going on the Bone Walker soundtrack, in new form; that’s actual value.

    There’s also potential value in having more than one thing to sell – and getting a higher percentage of those profits – to new fans. Keep your old stock around. But the primary late-discovery late-sales argument you see bantered around strikes me as already out of date.

    The thousand fan theory, the second item I want to hit today, holds up great in this new environment. To elucidate, this theory postulates that if you can build a thousand dedicated fans who are vested in, who buy everything, you’re set.

    A smaller number of REALLY big fans might also work

    Don’t aim for a mass market that’s coming apart; aim for the sliver most relevant to you. If you can get a thousand people to buy in, well, you have to work to keep them happy, and making new things they want, but that’s a career.

    Just remember you always have people falling off the end of that – it’s completely natural – so you can’t just get there and relax.

    Finally, I have very little idea what to do about eBooks. eBooks, god. eBooks don’t have shows, eBook writers don’t have tours (and readings don’t count), but on the other hand, they’re often naturals at blogging! And that helps build community. But it’ll still be all about preloading payment if the book publishing industry is dumb enough to follow the RIAA lead.


    Right now, publishers still have a nice amount of goodwill, and readers are often more atuned to the idea of supporting their writers, so those are both big advantages. But if the industry doesn’t ditch DRM and device-dependency right now, they’re going to burn all that away.

    One potential solution is going back to Dickens’s pay-per-installment model, publishing in chapters. Lawrence Watt-Evans is one midlist F&SF writer doing this already; it seems to be working for him. I’m also pretty sure the thousand-fan theory applies well here. But the hindrance is that most people read most books that they do read exactly once, so you have your one shot, unlike music, where they’ll replay it later and maybe decide to like you enough to pay you then.

    If you have any ideas, let me know, because eBook people may need them even more than musicians do!

    So that’s it for this week. Next week I’ll wrap this up, and start a new series – you guys interested in the studio buildout series or How Facebook Destroys Everything? I’m thinking studio buildout, some nice DIY to leven all the business noise.

    AND! TORONTO! I AM IN YOU! And I have a show tomorrow night, 7pm, house concert north of the Beaches. Email for details or check the show page!

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

    solarbird: (Lecturing)

    I was going to write about making money in a post-scarcity environment today. But something’s come through in comments so very clearly that I have to write about it first, because you need to understand this before you can even think about trying to make music for money.

    Last time, I talked about how the record companies had brought a lot of the current situation upon themselves. I wrote about how their insatiable greed and desire to attain a we-own-everything and you-pay-for-every-play system had ruined any chance at some sort of DRM-based continuation of the old way.


    But it’s worse than that. Responses to my first article made across the web – Facebook, Livejournal, other places – have clearly illuminated that they did far more than just fail at rent-seeking. They have successfully convinced everyone that people do not own the music they “buy.”

    The record companies would, of course, be the first to affirm this. They’d correctly say you own certain very limited “use rights,” and that’s it. They’d suggest even those could be revoked. You most certainly don’t own the music, and there’re things you can and can’t do with it, mostly on the side of can’t.

    Their former customers now agree. They totally get it. Congratulations, RIAA! Congratulations, MPAA! They get it! They pay you and DING! They don’t own the music! You won!

    And in doing so, you have destroyed the value of purchase. You have destroyed the value of ownership. And you destroyed yourselves, and everyone else with you, because nobody is going to pay good money for something they don’t get to own.

    People not only see music “ownership” as meaningless, they see themselves as being played for suckers and contemptible rubes. They see examples being made of people like them in court. They hear clowns from the MPAA talking about how leaving the room during commercials is stealing from TV networks. They post a family video with music from an album they bought and paid for in the background, and get a DMCA takedown and threatened with loss of internet access.

    Music fans see constant haranguing from the industry telling them what they can’t do. And they see other people saying fuck that, and doing it anyway.

    I want to grab industry people by the ears and say, LOOK, GUYS: before all this, before even cassette tapes, people shared recorded music. Sharing is part of the point. In the past it was portable record players, or going over to your friends house and playing songs there, or if you had enough money, even a record player in the car. You’d trade albums and borrow and return and not care.

    And that didn’t start with the transistor, kids

    Now all of those sharings are replaced by throwing the songs across the net, since a lot of your friends aren’t physically close. Conceptually, to much of the public, it’s the same thing. And they’re not just being told “no, you can’t do what their parents did,” they’re being told “not only can’t you do this, we will fuck you up and destroy your family.”

    Honestly, there’s nothing funny about this

    So guess what: people aren’t buying music so much anymore! Is it surprising that people won’t pay for something they do not see as having value? It’d be far more surprising if they did. Forced sales through threat and intimidation only get you so far. “Here, give me $5 for absolutely nothing. Oh, I might sue and destroy you, but it’s even more likely if you don’t pay.” “Fuck you, no! Oh hai, bittorrent.”

    Once you’ve shattered that money-for-value association – and it’s good and shattered – even DRM-free music files become clutter. They’re something to have to keep track of and back up and worry and think about. And with little to no ownership value, who wants to bother?

    It’s arguably not even zero value. It’s arguably negative value.

    As a result, many people are turning to supposedly-universal subscription services. But even there, it’s the same dicking-around-with-rights games. Subscribers see songs appearing and disappearing as companies fight about licenses, and gods forbid you try to use the music for anything. Same story for the MPAA and studios and Netflix and such – same idiocy, different media.

    So people get tired of it, and we’re back to OH HAI BITTORRENT, because the industry has destroyed the value of both ownership and paying. In the process, it has destroyed itself, and indies trying to leverage recording income are being taken down as collateral damage.

    But there is a saving grace here, for musicians: this rejection isn’t about the music. Download estimates alone show that.

    It’s about rejecting the current recording model.

    Get ahead of that curve, and you can guess about half what I’ll be writing about next. Spoiler: it’s not all about playing live.

    PS: While I’ve got your attention: check out the Harmonic Fire Pendula, over on Kickstarter. It’s an art project – fire sculpture – and it’s pretty cool.

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

    solarbird: (music)

    So there’s this social micropayments system called Flattr. Members sign up, pay a little a month (€2), then can, on sites with a Flattr button, click on that button. The click is logged. At the end of the month, the €2 is divided across all the buttons you clicked on, less 10% which goes to Flattr, which is how they make money. Wikipedia says it’s been around since 2010 but only went really public in 2011.

    Have you even ever heard of this thing before, or seen a Flattr button? I mean, it’s the kind of thing that’d be cool, if people used it, but I really doubt people would. Certainly my experiences with online revenue make it seem unlikely – I’ll make more money at a single good show than I have lifetime online. (That’s why I’ve been focused on YouTube lately – YouTube is far more plays per day than Bandcamp, CD Baby, or iTunes or any of that, and since I want shows, well…)

    So have you even heard of this? Do you use it? Do you know anybody who does? Now that you know about it, would you use it?

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

    solarbird: (sulu_oh_my)

    A PSA: under current as of now license, anything you post to Pinterest belongs to Pinterest, including for resale and licensing, forever. I haven’t seen a license this broad since CompuServe tried this in the late 80s. Be aware.

    Scientific American outlines the license.

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

    solarbird: (Lecturing)

    This is going around: Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins thinks everything sucks. Here’s a YouTube embed:

    Basically he agrees the major label system sucks, but not for the same reasons we do; being one of that tiny percent to actually make money in it, he thinks that part is just fine. He just thinks the people who do manage this feat are the “winners.” What he hates is what he calls the “singles mentality” and homogenisation, combined with the death of the album form, which he sees as removing the connection between little indie band (j0) and MEGASUPERSTARDOM RAR!

    And he also spends a lot of time crying for the mass cultural experience.

    But at the same time, he also hates on the indie scene, mostly on his exposure to it through alternative rock, declaring it eternally “precocious” and incapable of sustaining an audience or band, dismissing it entirely as, “What’re you going to do, sell albums to the same 10,000 people every year?” and saying bands that go that route are just going to be working back at Burger King in ten years.

    As opposed to almost all major label artists who end up back working lousy day jobs and bankrupted.

    Personally, if I can sell 10,000 albums a year, I’ll be totally psyched. I’d also be making more money than most major label artists. But to him you don’t count unless, as he puts it, grandmothers know about you. You have to CHANGE THE WORLD, MAN. Like he, um, didn’t. (Sorry, guy, got news.)

    I don’t actually want to spend this entire post hating on this interview, because he has a bunch of things to say in there which are varying degrees of legitimate, like how goddamn behind the technology curve the major labels have been and continue to be. But god damn, dude – do some fucking math. The label-and-album system that did work for you (and for about 10-15 other artists a year) didn’t work for anybody else. Except the labels, of course.

    You’re so concerned about all this, about the “little” and “indie” bands who are so “precocious?” How about floating some goddamn ideas instead? Because the album as an art form may come and go – Dick Tracy Must Die isn’t just an album, it’s a goddamn concept album – but changing fashion of forms isn’t going to save anybody. Not even the labels.

    Meanwhile we, the eternally “precocious,” will be over here, trying to get some work done. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll figure some shit out.

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

    solarbird: (assassin)

    We didn’t talk about indie film this past Monday, even on Livejournal, but Richard Pini over on Facebook pointed out that Ted Hope certainly is. It’s worth a look over, because some of the problems are quite different, as are some of his ideas about approaches, so the compare-and-contrast might generate some ideas.

    But the big thing: today is SHOW DAY! I have a nice dark set between Leannan Sidhe’s subtlety – if you haven’t heard her, she’s kind of the opposite of me – and Kräken-Röhl’s frothy steampunk-sing-a-long goodness. Come! And bring a friend – you, too, can be a minion! And who doesn’t want that? B-Side Music, 214 Stewart, Seattle, across from the Bon Marché parking garage, next to where the late and lamented Night Kitchen used to be. Shows start 7pm.

    See you there!

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

    solarbird: (music)

    nwcMUSIC is a geekmusic festival that I’m building at the Norwescon Science Fiction Convention. We have chiptunes, nerdcore, geek rock, elfmetal, filk, nightly concerts, daytime workshops, panel programming, late-night open mics, filkcircles, the whole deal.

    Our programming includes “business of being an independent artist” panels. Going indie – not wanting a record deal – has become more and more common as the technology to record competently on your own has become more and more accessible. As my mastering engineer for Dick Tracy Must Die said, there used to be a time when you recorded your demo on a four track and recorded your studio album in a professional studio, and demos sounded like demos and label releases sounded like real albums – but now people like me walk in with recordings they made in studios they built at home, and sound real.

    It kind of freaks him out.

    So now, doing your own album is considered not just valid, but important. It’s a positive. It shows the ability to complete a project and the talent necessary to produce something listenable. Labels now tell bands who want labels to “bring tribe with you.” (And a lot of smarter bands are replying, “if we have our own tribe, why the fuck do we need you?” The RIAA are desperate for good reason.)

    Writing isn’t like that, yet; just finish the damned manuscript. Self-pubbing through a vanity press? Folly, reserved for rampaging ego muppets with too much money.

    But the technologies are changing, and the economics of book publishing are in flux.

    Now, there are cheap eReaders. Companies sensing opportunity have jumped in with distribution models: CD Baby has BookBaby, Amazon has its Kindle-only programme, etc. These all let you not just produce your own eBooks, but make them widely accessible, in a variety of formats. And having done both, the technology of taking a manuscript and laying it out into eBook form is dramatically easier to grasp than that of recording.

    So some midlist authors are starting to reissue their out-of-print backlists in eBook form. Some for free, but others are apparently making enough money at it that imprints are trying to claim eBook rights from contacts written before eReaders even existed. And with examples like Amanda Hocking out there, you’re seeing some re-evaluation of self-publication, as well.

    So this year, I floated multidisciplinary versions of our business panels, specifically calling out artists and writers. I had one sign up, a well-respected writer/artist of graphic novels. I’m really pleased to have her! But I had no interest from any traditional-book authors.

    In part, this shows how a lot of musicians know the recording industry exists substantially to screw you. It also implies that publishing houses do not currently have this reputation. From here, that difference looks legitimate; if you go through a major label and sell 20,000 copies of an album, you’re bankrupted and you won’t even own your recordings; if a writer goes through a major print publisher and sells 2,000 copies of a paperback book, they’re earning royalties.

    It’s probably also relevant that record labels haven’t traditionally added much, artistically. They’d bring you people who could and often did, but you’re paying for it, not the label, in the form of advances against earnings. By contrast, book imprints – by which I mean a good editor under the employ of that imprint – historically could add a lot, and they paid that bill.

    But cutbacks in publishing have had visible effects. Editors are hugely overworked and understaffed, and it absolutely shows. What if that added value continues to decline?

    Do writers need to be looking at us indie musicians, for their own sakes? Do they need to take some notes?

    I’m wondering about it both as a future necessity and as a future reasonable – at least, non-embarassing – option.

    Hopefully it won’t become a necessity. Me, I’m in this for the music, and the recording part is fun because it gives me opportunities to work with other musicians and play with sound toys. I am not in it for the marketing, management, distribution, product design, advertising, packaging, shipping, and on and on and on. But as an indie musician, I have to do all of that too.

    An indie writer would find themselves in the same boat.

    I have writers in my audience; what do you think? Are we living in your future? And if so, does that sound cool, or do you look at this whole scene and want to run like hell?

    PS: Happy birthday to my favourite writer, Angela Korra’ti. Smoochies! ^_^

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

    solarbird: (music)

    Self-promotion is the downside of trying to be an independent musician. I don’t have VH-1, I don’t have VEVO, I don’t have Billboard Magazine, I don’t have radio stations, I don’t have record stores.

    I have you guys, and I have my website. And the website is useless without you guys. You who like the album, who think it’s worth hearing, who think its themes are relevant and interesting?

    You’re the ones who make this work, or not.

    I need ears. Am I in this for the money? That’s hilarious. I want to make a living at this, of course, but I’d make literally orders of magnitude more money consulting part-time. And it’d be less work.

    But this is my art. And what I really want is for my music to find its listeners.

    So I’m asking you to help.

    • Order a copy, play it for people. Order the studio album as a gift, if you have a copy already. I have free shipping on second/third/fourth CDs on Bandcamp. On CD Baby, second/third/fourth copies are discounted by $3 each.
    • If you like Cracksman Betty or Espionage, the free/pay-what-you-want albums, download and burn them for someone else as a stocking-stuffer.
    • Just tell people. Like the band page on Facebook, point people at Bandcamp, leave a review or just Like the album on on Amazon or iTunes Music Store, or on your own blog or Livejournal or Facebook or Google+ page.

    I may joke about buying in to the whole Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday noise – and I do, believe me – but it really does matter. I care about my art, and I want it to be heard. There are endless numbers of good reasons to slam the record companies – and I do – but what you cannot deny is their ability to promote. They can sell anything, and do.

    And then take all your money and leave you bankrupt. That’s the downside. Their way sucks.

    Some of us – more and more of us – are trying to find other ways. I’m patterning after people like Marian Call, Leannan Sidhe, SJ Tucker, Ultraklystron, Rai Kamishiro, dozens if not hundreds of others. We’re all indie musicians, doing exactly the opposite of the Big Record Label Model. We’re relying on your ability, and willingness, to share what you like, rather than screwing you down as tightly as possible to their ideas about how they should own everything you hear and see.

    It’s their way, vs. your ability to share. I don’t want their way. I want yours. That’s why there’s no DRM on any of my work.

    So support your artists – musical, visual, whatever – directly, whoever they are. Not just through money, tho’ that’s good, but through sharing stuff, and through talking about what you like.

    Including, I hope, me. Thank you.

    PS: I’ve been going through the video and audio from the show on the 18th. I’ll be dropping at least one of those on the YouTube channel by the end of the week. Keep an eye out.

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

    solarbird: (assassin)

    I wasn’t going to post today, because HI SECOND THANKSGIVING HI HOUSECLEANING O SHIT HI HOUSECLEANING THERE CERTAINLY IS A LOT OF YOU ISN’T THERE XD but this is a pretty good six-input USB 2.0 audio interface that I suspect they’re discontinuing in favour of a USB 3.0 version. The Windows drivers apparently kinda blow donkeys if you care about that, but it’s also a USB 2.0 class-compliant audio interface (say the specs), so, sure, whatever. For $92 vs. street of $250? That’s pretty good.

    YES I’VE ORDERED ONE don’t judge me and my impulse buying. (No, I didn’t get a kickback. Dammit.)

    Talking of kickbacks, it’s HOLIDAY SEASON! TIME TO SHILL MY STUFF!

    But! Music makes a great gift! And I need to pay for that audio interface! And I just set free shipping on second-third-fourth-etc copies of the physical full-band studio-recorded album, Dick Tracy Must Die! Order 10 physical CDs, get free shipping on nine! SUCH A BARGAIN!

    Plus I’ll throw in magnets of evil (HOW DO THEY WORK?!) while supplies last. Then I’ll probably make some more, people seem to like them.

    Wow, I’m bad at marketing. I hate this part, and I’m so totally bad at it. I’d rather play my bouzouki and chat people up after the show. XD

    Do any of you guys sell your art? How do you handle the “sales” part?

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

    solarbird: (Default)
    • New default mandolin POG setting: user config 8
    • 1/4" output on instrument pre-amps are line level and still active with XLR outputs active. Can be Y-connected to Zoom with -40db reducer patched in (same as tap 2 on Samson)
    • POG output is hot even when bypassed, reduce Boggs gain to 0 if using.
    • Samson per-channel reverb is based off percent of MASTER reverb, must set BOTH.
    • Drop midrange on pogged mandolin on amp channel for vocal clarity

    • Second -40db (line to mic level) reduction patch cable Built
    • Second 1f 1/4" mono patch cable Built
    • Extra Y-splitter for 1/4" mono patch cable Bought
    • Better 1/8" male to 1/4" female TRS adaptor patch cable Bought adaptor
    • 10f and/or 20f 1/4" mono patch cable (inventory) 10f, built

    • 20f-08 XLR cableFixed!
    • Variable attenuator is acting funny, check itTests as good.
    • Zouk travel bag needs resewn at head.
    solarbird: (assassin)

    Our net connection has been particularly wretched recently, due to Verizon/Frontier’s utter lack of willingness to maintain their hardware in our area. It’s so phenomenally bad, that we’re giving up and moving. This means prying our ancien régime Class C out of my own cold, dead hands, but it’s so bad that I don’t care anymore.

    Things may be weird for a little while on the website as a result of the move. Access may be spotty. To make up for it, we’ve dropped shipping charges to zero! Shipping is now free, anywhere in the world. And of course you get the immediate download included. So now is a good time to buy that physical disc you’ve been wanting!

    Plus I just bought this bitchin’ harmonics sound pedal for live shows and I’d like to pay for that. XD:

    It’s mine, all mine! Muah ah ha ha!

    So buy while it’s cheap, OK!

    Also, if you’re on Facebook, please like the Facebook page! We need more likes on Facebook. (If you’re already reading this on Facebook; thanks!) You guys pushed us to the top of the front page on, after that last post, which is really great and hopefully will get us more iTunes hits. Thanks so much, this stuff does add up and you guys do matter. \o/

    (And talking of iTunes – on iPhone, we’ve got enough ratings and it shows the average – five stars, fuck yeah! But on the website and OSX, it still says MORE RATINGS NEEDED. If you get a chance, give us some stars! We need the stars. ALL OF THEM. ALLLLLLLLLL THE STARS MUST BELONG TO UUUUSSSSSSSSSSS MUWAH HA HA HA HAA! )

    Um. Yeah, sorry about the maniacal laughter. That happens sometimes. Maybe it was the Heather Dale/SJ Tucker/Wendy Rule show last night. Maybe it’s the bitchin’ new babydoll band T that Heather and Ben brought all the way from Toronto for me. (<3!) (Heather, Ben, and S00j are playing again on Monday, at Soul Food Books in Redmond. Hie thee the hell over!)

    Or, on the other hand, maybe I should adjust my dosage. But where’s the fun in that?

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil.
    Buy Dick Tracy Must Die at CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes, eMusic, or through Bandcamp!

    solarbird: (assassin)

    Pre-orders are all shipped! Most sponsor discs are shipped, or will be Saturday mid-day. (I just need an address from someone who I think moved but I’m not sure.) Discs go to CD Baby tomorrow, too. Yay!

    Here, please enjoy someone else’s poetry about supervillains. These are the more conventional type, but I have to say, we have a lot of sympathy. A lot.

    In other news, my Nook’s case got here, and! so did! my iPad! And I played here on Thursday night, and gave out so many cards I ran out. Time to make more!

    Hi from Crossroads! I went on about 10 minutes after this,
    stage to the left.

    Got any plans this weekend?

    Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil.

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